Reno, Nevada


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The Biggest Little City in the World
The city slogan and the city arch.

I guess many cities have claimed to be the “biggest little city”. Memphis, Wichita and Sioux Falls are among them. Reno called itself The Biggest Little City on the Pacific Coast as early as 1901. I don’t want to quibble, but I don’t think Reno is on the Pacific Coast.

Reno hosted a heavyweight championship fight in 1910, and promoted itself then as “the Biggest Little City on the Map”.

Reno’s famed arch was first constructed in 1927 to honor America’s first coast-to-coast motor route – the Lincoln Highway connecting New York City and San Francisco. The arch originally stated: “Reno – Nevada’s Transcontinental Highways Exposition – June 25 – Aug 1, 1927.”

Two years later, the arch remained although the exposition had come and gone. It didn’t make much sense to take the arch down. Nor did it make much sense to boast about an old exposition. So the city held a contest to replace the slogan. The winner, for $100, was ”The Biggest Little City in the World”.

The arch has changed from time to time, and a few of the versions are shown on the right. (The first two photos are from the University of Nevada, Reno Collection). The arch has also changed locations more than once. The current sign, at its current location, is shown below.

Reno current arch

Photograph by Linda McDonnell

May 17, 2019

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